It is normal for your marriage to be at the center of your social life. You have a built-in activity partner. You share friends. The “plus one” is expected when you receive an invitation.
And then the marriage dies.
Your go-to is gone. The mutual friends may be divvied up like a bag of Skittles, or they may simply scatter as though the bag of candy was dropped to the floor.
It is tempting to hide. To hibernate. You may want to pull the covers over your head and not come out until the debris field has been cleared. It’s tempting, but it won’t help you heal. Think of the skin under a bandage that has been left on too long. Is that what you want your heart to look like?
Hopefully you have some stalwart friends who stick by your side. These are the ones who don’t run from your tears or hide from your rants. Treasure these friends. They are true.
Eventually, you will tire of being seen as the “divorcing one.” You will want to try on new guises and play with new personas. This is a wonderful opportunity to try new things and meet new people. Surround yourself with others who have a zest for life, even if they only flit in and out of your life for a moment. Let them teach you. It is a time to win friends and be influenced by people. Practice saying “yes” to experiences you would have avoided before. Celebrate. Laugh. Live. Then go home and cry if you need to.
Your world will stabilize again. Friendships will build. You will learn to navigate without the “plus one.” Until that time, reach out and make some new friends even if only for a day.
Some ideas on where to meet new friends:
- Meetup.com This was my choice. This is a free site that lets you join groups that partake in activities in your area that interest you. You can then choose to participate when you wish. Some events are free while others require payment of some sort. While I was active in Meetup, I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail with a group of women, I went sailing on a small sailboat, I enjoyed a gluten free dinner at a Cuban restaurant, and I went ice skating. I met people of all ages and backgrounds. I could tell them as much or as little of my story as I wished.
- A Class Sign up for a class through your local library, university, or parks and recreation service. The beauty of a class format is that you don’t face pressure of trying to make friends. Just relax and enjoy learning. But don’t forget to smile at those around you.
- Church Many larger churches have groups that are designated for singles or for those in transition. They often schedule outings and activities. You can even venture outside your normal church to find new people.
- Group Exercise This option can help you get or stay in shape, manage anxiety, and make friends! Consider Crossfit, bootcamps, running/walking groups, indoor cycling, or yoga. Invite someone out for coffee after the sweat session.
Get out there. Keep living. Keep learning. You never know, you may just find another “plus one.”
5 thoughts on “During Divorce: Make New Friends but Keep the Old”
I wish I had some of this advice when I got divorced several years ago! It was extremely difficult and painful. Unfortunately, all of “our friends” became “his friends.” I literally started over. I forced myself to be more outgoing at work, willing to invite people out for drinks, pool, or what have you. Over the years, I’ve grown beyond belief and now I do things that I never would have done before!
Great advice….thanks for sharing it.
You’re welcome! I’m glad to hear you were able to grow through the experience:)
This is such wisdom. I’m almost a year out after a 30 year marriage. Our friendships had dwindled – I now think that’s because most of our friends knew about his infidelity and just couldn’t be around either of us. I sure wish someone had respected me enough to just tell me the truth. Anyway – I am now rekindling friendships from high school. That is so crazy to me. These people not only shared a past but they knew me before I was so hurt and traumatized. Some I hadn’t seen in 20 years! They’re filling in the gaps. But I struggle to find new friends – many acquaintances say things like, “If you want to talk…” or “If you need anything…” but I’ve learned that those are only words and few really mean them. It’s disheartening. But onward I go. I’m going to check out some of your suggestions. Thanks so much!
Some of the best friends in my life now only entered my life post-divorce. You never know!